How to Maximize Your Starbucks Rewards

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If you’re fuelling a Starbucks addiction like me, you’re probably looking for the best way to get the most bang for your buck. Or at least Stars for your caffeine intake.

Here’s how to maximize your Starbucks Rewards points for the best value in your coffee budget!

How do Starbucks Rewards stars work?

Over the years, the Starbucks Rewards program has changed. Unfortunately, it’s become less rewarding over time. However, it’s still worth participating, especially if you’re a regular coffee addict like me.

You earn Starbucks Stars through your Starbucks card. To start earning, simply sign up for a Starbucks Card and then scan it or place a mobile order directly through the app. You’ll earn Starbucks Stars the following way:

  • Earn 2 Stars for every $1 spent at Starbucks using your Starbucks card
  • Earn 1 Star for every $1 spent at Starbucks using cash, debit, or credit card
  • Earn 4 Stars for every $1 spent on Double-Star Days
  • Earn bonus stars through promotions, games, and select products
  • Earn stars from Starbucks products sold at your local grocery store

Starbucks Rewards Stars expire after 6 months, so you have to keep redeeming as you earn so you don’t lose them!

How to earn Starbucks Stars when paying with cash or debit

If you’re ordering from Starbucks and not using the mobile app, you can still earn Stars for your purchase. Simply let the barista know, then scan your Starbucks card before you pay with cash, debit, or credit.

However, be aware you’ll only earn 1 Star per $1 spent when using cash, debit, or credit. You’re better off loading your Starbucks card, then spending with it to earn 2 Stars per $1 spent.

Don’t forget your Starbucks birthday reward!

In addition to earning Starbucks Stars for every purchase, being a member for the Starbucks Rewards program means you’ll also get a free Starbucks birthday drink.

Two days before your birthday, you’ll receive and email and in-app notification that entitles you to a free beverage or food item. To redeem your Starbucks birthday reward, all you need to do is tell the barista before you pay, then scan your Starbucks card!

Redeeming your Starbucks Birthday drink or food item doesn’t cost you any Stars. It’s an additional reward on top of your other member benefits.

What is the dollar value of Starbucks Rewards points?

How much your Starbucks Stars are worth varies by the item you’re redeeming them for. The dollar value of Starbucks points ranges from $0.02 to almost $0.08, depending on what you’re buying.

Best Value Redeeming Starbucks Stars: merchandise, bakery items, brewed coffee, and venti-sized drinks.

Worst Value Redeeming Starbucks Stars: lunch sandwiches, protein boxes, oatmeal, and tall drinks.

Here is a breakdown of the dollar value for Starbucks Stars redeemed for some of the most popular menu items:

Menu ItemPrice in $Price in StarsValue
Stainless steel cold cup – 24oz$31.95400$0.080
Double chocolate loaf cake, banana bread, lemon loaf, or chocolate croissant$3.2550$0.065
Venti brewed coffee$2.8550$0.057
Whole bean coffee$18.95400$0.047
Venti frappuccino$5.95150$0.400
Venti flavored latte$5.45150$0.036
Grande flavored latte$5.25150$0.034
Tall flavored latte$4.65150$0.031
Bacon, Gouda & egg sandwich or Spinach, feta & egg white wrap$4.65150$0.031
Eggs & cheese protein box$7.25150$0.029
Venti Americano$3.75150$0.025
Sourdough grilled cheese$5.45150$0.022
Classic oatmeal$2.95150$0.020
A summary of some of the most popular menu items available at Starbucks ranked from best to worst in redemption value for Stars

How to earn the most Starbucks Stars the fastest

Aside from just wandering into Starbucks every day and buying everything you want, there are a few strategic ways to earn the maximum number of Stars.

Use your Starbucks card

Starbucks wants you to use your Starbucks card instead of your credit or debit card, and they’ll reward you for doing so.

You’ll earn 2 Stars for every $1 spent with your Starbucks Card, but only 1 Star for every $1 spent with your debt or credit card. Don’t make the mistake of spending money at Starbucks with cash, credit, or debit. Load money to your Starbucks Card and use it!

Take advantage of mobile offers

Once you have a Starbucks Card and download the Starbucks mobile app, you’ll enjoy tons of offers in the app to boost your Star earning power.

The Starbucks app will track your order history and try to give you more bonus stars for items you earn regularly. Expect to see offers for anywhere from 25 to 150 bonus stars for consistently ordering your regular items, or coming in every day. You’ll also have the opportunity to earn bonus Stars for getting Starbucks after 2pm or on weekends.

Visit Starbucks more often

Starbucks rewards frequency of visits more than dollars spent with Star Dash

If you’re on a limited coffee budget but you still want to earn a lot of Stars, go to Starbucks more often rather than treating yourself to more expensive orders less frequently.

Starbucks wants you to come in every day. Ideally, twice a day! The Star Dash lets you earn 50 to 100 bonus stars simply for visiting every day, no matter how much (or how little) you spend.

This is why it’s in your best interest to order the cheapest thing at Starbucks and do so often to maximize your stars.

Look for a Star Dash to appear in your app. It will offer bonus stars for you visiting 3 to 6 times over a certain period of days. Drop-in every day for 3 or 5 days in the row and order the cheapest item on the menu. You’ll earn 50+ Bonus Stars without even spending $15.

What’s the cheapest thing at Starbucks?

The cheapest item on the Starbucks item is drip coffee. You’ll spend about $2.25 to $2.50 for a tall drip or iced coffee depending on where you live. 

How to get free Starbucks Stars

Most of the Starbucks Stars you earn will only come your way for buying things at Starbucks. However, there are a few hacks to get free Starbucks Stars.

Buy Starbucks coffee to brew at home

Ha! Bet you didn’t expect to see the timeless frugal hack of “brew coffee at home” here did you? And yet here we are.

You can buy Starbucks coffee directly from your local Starbucks, and earn 2 Stars for every $1 spent. At approximately $20 for a 1lb bag, you’ll earn 40 Stars from just one purchase. If you’re drinking 1lb of coffee per week, you’ll earn approximately 160 Stars per month this way.

You can also get Starbucks coffee from your local grocery store. You can buy ground coffee or whole beans for $12 to $16 per bag.

You won’t earn any Stars on these dollars, but all the bags will have a small Star code coupon taped to them. When you enter the code online, you’ll get 10 Stars.

Play Starbucks For Life

Starbucks For Life is a game Starbucks offers a few times per year. They are digital games with random chances of winning anything from bonus stars to Starbucks For Life (as you might have guessed).

You earn plays every time you make a purchase. Usually, you don’t get any rewards until you collect at least 3 digital “prizes” from the game, which means this is just another way Starbucks rewards frequent purchases. However, when you do get a prize from the game, it’s most often free Starbucks Stars.

Can you earn Starbucks stars buying gift cards?

No, you cannot earn Starbucks Stars buying gift cards. You can only earn Starbucks Stars by purchasing Starbucks food, drink, or merchandise.

Redeeming your Starbucks Stars to get maximum value

Starbucks Rewards redemption options range from 25 to 400 Star items. However, some are a better use of your Starbucks points than others! You can view all the details directly on the Starbucks Rewards website, but here’s the rundown:

25 Stars for drink customization

A drink customization includes an extra shot of espresso, dairy substitute, or syrup. You need to spend approximately $13 at Starbucks in order to earn 25 stars. 

An extra shot of espresso is $0.90 at my local Starbucks, which translates to a 6.9% return on my Starbucks spending. Not terrible!

50 Stars for hot coffee or tea, or a bakery item (BEST OPTION) 

A brewed coffee or tea of any size, or a bakery item like a cookie, croissant. You need to spend approximately $25 to earn 50 Stars. 

A brewed coffee at my Starbucks is $2.35, which means I get a 9.4% return on my Starbucks spending if I use my Stars this way! This makes redeeming 50 Stars at a time the best way to use your Starbucks Rewards. 

150 Stars for a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast, or parfait

A handcrafted drink is any latte or frappucino. Hot breakfast includes breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, and egg bites. You’ll have to spend approximately $75 to earn 150 Stars, which seems a little pricey just to get a free latte.

A latte costs $5.25 at my local Starbucks, which means I’m getting a 7% return on my investment. 

250 Stars for a lunch sandwich or protein box

Starbucks offers a few different lunch sandwiches and protein boxes if you’re looking for a quick meal to-go. You’ll need to spend approximately $125 to earn the 250 Stars needed to redeem for these. 

A lunch sandwich is $7.75 for me, which is only a 6.2% return on my Starbucks Star value.

400 Stars for a signature mug, bag of coffee, or select coffee accessories

If you don’t want to spend your Starbucks points on something that will be consumed in minutes, you can use your Stars to get a mug, bag of coffee, or other swag. 

A bag of coffee beans is $20 at Starbucks, making this a potential 10% return on your Starbucks spending. However, this is not what you should use your stars for!

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this the best return on your rewards?? It certainly appears that way at first glance, but let’s remember the same bag of coffee is 2/3’s the price at your local grocery store.

In other words, even though redeeming your points for a bag of coffee makes them go the furthest, it’s not the best use of them. 

Menu ItemPrice in $Price in StarsValue
Stainless steel cold cup – 24oz$31.95400$0.080
Double chocolate loaf cake, banana bread, lemon loaf, or chocolate croissant$3.2550$0.065
Venti brewed coffee$2.8550$0.057
Whole bean coffee$18.95400$0.047
Venti frappuccino$5.95150$0.400
Venti flavored latte$5.45150$0.036
Grande flavored latte$5.25150$0.034
Tall flavored latte$4.65150$0.031
Bacon, Gouda & egg sandwich or Spinach, feta & egg white wrap$4.65150$0.031
Eggs & cheese protein box$7.25150$0.029
Venti Americano$3.75150$0.025
Sourdough grilled cheese$5.45150$0.022
Classic oatmeal$2.95150$0.020
A summary of some of the most popular menu items available at Starbucks ranked from best to worst in redemption value for Stars

Can I have more than 400 Stars?

As someone who personally hit this milestone and surpassed it: yes. You can have more than 400 Starbucks Rewards Stars. They’ll continue to accumulate in your Starbucks account until you redeem them. 

Having a lot of Starbucks points doesn’t provide any special benefits, so there’s no reason to hoard them. In fact, as calculated above, your best option is spending 50 Stars at a time on brewed coffee or tea. 

When do Starbucks Stars expire?

Your Starbucks Stars expire 6 months after your account is closed or expired.

Unlike many other rewards programs that let you hang on to your points indefinitely, Starbucks Stars expire. So use them before you lose them!

When you redeem your Starbucks Stars for menu items, Starbucks will always use your oldest stars first.

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • For US peeps, sign up for Groupon. About 4 or 5 times a year there’s a $10 Starbucks gift card sold for $5. Great way to add to these savings

    Reply
  • Are you sure you can get that Stainless steel cold cup – 24oz for 400 stars, worth $30+? I thought accessoires are capped at $20 worth.

    Reply
  • If I get a bonus offer that says it will give me 15 stars to buy a latte, and it’s double star day, how many stars will I get? Will I get 2x the 15, 15 + 2x the stars I would get from buying the latte, 2x 15 + 2x the stars from buying the latte, just 15, or just 2x the stars from buying the latte?

    Reply
    • Hey I just completed my bonus offer today, which is a double star day. I got my 75 bonus points plus the double stars i got from my purchase. Hope this helps.

      Reply

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